APPOMATTOX, Va. (CBS/AP) A judge has ruled that Christopher Speight will not be facing a jury for killing eight people at his Appomattox County home in January - at least for now.
Appomattox County Circuit Court Judge Richard Blanton ruled Tuesday that Speight, who's accused of a shooting spree Jan. 20 that killed eight people including three teenagers and a 4-year-old child, is unable to assist in his own defense, and ordered him sent to a state psychiatric hospital for treatment and evaluation.
Commonwealth's Attorney Darrel Puckett said Blanton's ruling was not unexpected and said it was important that Speight's mental competency be established because the charges against him carry the death penalty. But Puckett did say that he expected Speight to be ruled competent within the next six months of treatment, according to the Lynchburg News Advance.
"From the Commonwealth's standpoint, I do not and will not concede incompetence or insanity," Puckett told the paper.
Speight's lawyer, Neil Horn, made the original mental health evaluation request in May saying that he was "unable at this time to rationally communicate" with Speight and that one of Horn's investigators reported that, during a visit with Speight in jail, he told him he was "being tortured by other entities that were battling over him and he demanded the torture stop," the News Advance reported.
Judge Blanton's June 24 order sends Speight to Central State Hospital in Petersburg, a state-operated mental health institution. If at any point the staff believes he is competent to stand trial, the order calls for an immediate report to the court.
Speight faces three counts of capital murder and five other charges related to the Jan. 20 shooting.
He also faces one count of attempted capital murder of a police officer for allegedly trying to kill a state trooper by attempting to shoot down a state-owned helicopter.